UN sees `massive` fall in South Africa AIDS cases

Updated: Jan 20, 2012, 13:19 PM IST

Geneva: South Africa, home to the highest number of HIV cases in the world, should see a massive reduction by the end of the decade after a sea-change in government policy, a UNAIDS official said today.

"It now has more people with HIV infections than any country in the world, with 5.6 million. That is because a lack of political commitment before," said Sheila Tlou, UNAIDS regional director for East and Southern Africa.

"However there is a turnaround in the new government under President (Jacob) Zuma which is committed," in its fight against HIV and AIDS, she said.

"By 2020 there will be massive reductions in South Africa."

Zuma, who has dramatically expanded South Africa`s AIDS treatment programme since taking office in 2009, last month unveiled a plan to halve the number of HIV infections
over the next five years.

Steve Kraus, UNAIDS director for Asia and the Pacific, said important progress has been made in big countries such as China, India and Indonesia and in smaller countries such as
Fiji and Samoa.

The five-year plan is the first drafted since the 2008 ouster of president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, known as Dr Beetroot for advocating
vegetables rather medication to treat AIDS.